“I’m very concerned that, on a national basis, police organizations are looking more and more like combat troops and less and less like community police officers.”
– Robert Wadman, emeritus Weber State University criminal justice professor-
Excerpt, Standard Examiner – “Law enforcement officials agree: Police execute a “door kick” somewhere in Weber County, on average, once every week.
The forced entries range from a welfare check, when neighbors become concerned as newspapers pile up on someone’s porch and the family car is parked in the driveway.
At the other end of the spectrum are the full-on, SWAT-style raids with helmeted officers battering down a door unannounced, such as the Sept. 16, 2010, entry that left the suspect, Todd Blair, fatally shot.
Officials point to the frequency of door kicks, in police parlance, that occur without publicity or complaint as proof they’re benign — only a small percentage go awry. They steadfastly maintain they are crucial, the swift deployment necessary for officer safety and to keep suspects from destroying evidence.
Commando tactics concerns
But there are critics concerned about the increase in the commando-style entries, also known as a breach.
The American Civil Liberties Union recently announced a nationwide investigation of the “militarization” of police departments, simultaneously filing 255 public records requests in 24 states on March 6.
Among 18 Utah agencies whose records were requested are the Ogden, Roy and Brigham City police departments and the Weber and Cache county sheriff’s offices.
The agencies have been asked to provide data on SWAT team deployments and injuries during the deployments, weaponry used, and the level of funding for armament and equipment from the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
The ACLU decried militarization as an erosion “of civil liberties encouraging increasingly aggressive policing.”
In the wake of high-profile, lethal-force incidents involving officers, police brass and prosecutors have defended the strong-arm tactics as necessary in an increasingly violent world.
“Officers plan for the worst and hope for the best,” said Ogden Police Lt. Will Cragun. “It’s easy to second-guess after the fact, but you need to get down in the dirt with us to know what’s going on.”
Officials typically point to recent mass shootings around the country as a constant reminder to officers to be on their guard.
Roy Police Chief Greg Whinham noted the Columbine High School shootings of 1999, where 12 students and a teacher were killed and 21 injured, moved him to make his department the first in the state to put A-4 automatic rifles in the trunks of all patrol cars.
“I will always err on the side of getting my officers home at the end of their shift,” he said.
In an earlier news story about the ACLU records request, Weber County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Klint Anderson said the problem is “the militarization of our criminals.”
Anderson said law enforcement is seeing “criminals who have military experience and military training.”
“They are better armed, better trained and more dangerous than before.”
Jim Retallick, veteran Ogden public defender, and other defense attorneys argue there are other ways to serve search warrants than the military-style door kicks.
“Hell yes, it’s getting dangerous,” Retallick said. “For seven people to get shot over marijuana is ridiculous.”
He is referring to the Jan. 4, 2012, forced-entry raid on the Ogden home of Matthew David Stewart. Six officers were shot, one fatally. Stewart was also wounded, hospitalized and jailed and now awaits trial, facing the death penalty…” Full Article Here
***Warning: Video Contains Graphic & Heartbreaking Footage***